Friday, January 24, 2014

I Have Flaws, as do My Dogs


My rotten, flawed, very much loved dogs.
 I am far from perfect.  I spent six years getting a Bachelor's Degree.  I like wine, beer, and chocolate.  I eat red meat, probably too often.  I don't exercise enough.  I can admit these things.

I love all the dog blogs I read.  I love the gorgeous pictures, the funny stories, the training tips, the product reviews, the health advice.  But what I really love are the bloggers and posts that are honest and sincere, the stories of health and behavioral struggles, the poignancy and beauty that comes when one is writing from their heart, because they have nothing left to lose.  The reactive terrier, the aggressive northern breed, the dominant mutt.  The bloggers who are willing to admit their mistakes, and that their dogs are not "perfect."  Though some bloggers make it seem otherwise, dog ownership is not all rainbows and butterflies.

I brought home my girl, my princess, my heart, when she was a seven week old ball of fluff.  I wasn't ready to get a dog, particularly one composed of breeds that are known not to be dogs for beginners.  That dark brown, 12 pound, gorgeous fluffy girl stole my heart.  I had to carry her into PetsMart with me, to buy a crate, bowls, and dog food, because I had none of these things.  She was the product of an "oops" litter, posted on my employer's online bulletin board.  I couldn't resist. 

I could never have dreamed that dark brown, 12 pound (and full of worms) puppy would grow into a blond, 100 pound, headstrong adult.  We did everything you are supposed to do with her.  After a bit of research, I fed her high quality puppy foods.  I vaccinated.  I took her through three series of training classes.  I took her everywhere with me, and socialized her nearly everyday.  After all of this, she is a bratty, at times obnoxious, diva.  She doesn't walk well on a leash.  She is leery of screaming children and imposing men.  She doesn't like other dogs getting in her face, and won't hesitate to tell other dogs this, with what I refer to as her "bitch bark."  She is the fun police, often times breaking up good play between my boys.  She dislikes most other female dogs.  She is nosy.  She has no recall.  She only listens when she wants to.  She is stubborn, and most likely smarter than I am.  I love her, despite her flaws.

I feed raw, but I am not a raw purist.  I have no problem feeding processed treats, but for the most part seek out treats made of simple, high quality ingredients.  Guess what?  I sometimes give my dogs junk treats.  They love marrow bones.  Those sugar laden, full of chemical treats that are supposed to look like a section of bone with the marrow exposed.  These are like crack to my dogs.  I buy them a few times a year.  My dogs love them.  I give them to them.  They also love Bil-Jac liver treats.  I regularly buy these.  My big boy gets his twice daily medicine smashed in them.  Because I give my dog medication, for his anxiety.  I used to feel bad, guilty almost, about this.  But I no longer do.  It's ok.  He is flawed.  There is something wrong in either his genetic makeup, or puppy hood. 

When my girl was a year old, we decided to get her a friend, another dog.  We decided to do the noble thing, to rescue.  We found our big boy on PetFinder, in a local rescue group.  I was immediately drawn to his photos.  Something about his features, his bone structure, his size, drew me in.  We went to meet him.  We should have known he was defective, flawed, not right, from the get go.  But he was so handsome, and as big as our girl, so we ignored these signs.  We adopted him.  He bit me a few times in the first couple weeks.  Our girl was such an easy puppy, never mouthy, never growling, never guarding, so this was an incredibly hard pill to swallow.  My pride and heart overtook common sense, which is a frequent flaw of mine, and instead of returning him to the rescue we kept him.  The big boy is not good around most other dogs.  He cannot be around children, and most adults for that matter.  He resource guards food.  And toys.  And space.  We did basic obedience with him.  Lots of positive reinforcement.  Tried a Gentle Leader, he rubbed a raw spot on his muzzle.  Speaking of muzzles, he has to be muzzled at the vet.  When he gets really excited or nervous, he has to poop, usually it's diarrhea.  He marks inappropriately when out and about.  We have had him for three years, and have never trimmed his nails.  He comes unglued, and tries to eat me whenever the nail trimmers come near him.  I suppose a benefit of his inappropriate/excessive marking is that he kicks with all four feet afterwards, and this has kept his nails just shy of bear claw length.  He can be incredibly sweet, and affectionate, but on his terms.  I love him, despite his flaws.

While I try to make smart, informed decisions, another of my flaws is that I can be impulsive.  I fell in love with my little boy from a Facebook share.  When I learned he was only 30 miles away from me, I had to have him, no questions.  It was serendipitous, in my opinion. 

I went "just to meet" the little boy, and of course brought him home.  He was sweet, and slightly pitiful.  He had obviously never been a house dog.  I can make this work, no problem!  He ate a couch.  Two XBox controllers.  A Uverse remote.  A TV remote.  OH's divorce decree.  He peed in his crate.  He fear/submissively urinated.  Daily for months on end.  He was reactive.  He was a frustrated greeter.  He jumps on people, but is getting better about that.  He is pushy.  He resource guards food.  Bad.  I have never fixed the resource guarding issue with either of my boys.  I manage it instead.  He will growl and snarl if he guarding some illicit item.  But will happily trade.  He adores everyone he meets.  He greets other dogs rudely, but wants to say hello to all of them.  He doesn't walk well on a leash.  I love him, despite his flaws.

My dogs can be crazy.  They can be rude, they can be obnoxious, they can be jerks.  Despite all of this, I would not trade them for the world.  I love them, flaws and all.

I make mistakes.  It is crazy cold here, and I haven't walked my dogs in a week.  I sometimes give them treats without making them work for them.  I let them bark at me as I am preparing their food.  I sometimes coddle them when they are behaving badly.  I have forgotten to set out food to thaw for breakfast a few times.  Despite all this, despite all my dog related, and non-dog related flaws, I believe my dogs love me.  I can only hope that I make my flawed fur balls as happy as they make me, their flawed human.

15 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post! I love it! This: "I can only hope that I make my flawed fur balls as happy as they make me, their flawed human." Yep. :)

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  2. That was a wonderful post!
    Nola

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  3. You weren't kidding about having some things in common! bol! What a great post! I too wouldn't trade any of my dogs for a perfect one.

    Thank you so much for sharing. I loved it!

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  4. Love this post. Brave of you to admit your dogs flaws...as well as your own. I have Labs and they've been "easy" until the last two, reactivity and fearful. Hard to realize love doesn't solve all their problems.

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  5. OMD, Ma is smilin' from ear to ear because she says 'I' have almost all of those flaws!!!
    All wrapped up in one hyperbutt terror, um, terrier!!! I thinks I'm pawfect, and don't let Ma tell you otherwise....she's a liar. Yups! Okay, not really, butts you should hear HER flaws.....
    *technical difficulties*......
    Kisses,
    Ruby ♥

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  6. Heart-warming to see honesty. We all have flaws and need to accept them. I'm glad I got to read this today- I need it.

    Dina Mom

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  7. This is such a great post! I don't know why anybody tries to portray a perfect pet...perfect child....them being perfect themselves... All that a stuff!
    The flaws in us and our pets is what makes us who we are, and we should embrace that and be proud of it!!! Great post!! And well said!
    ((Husky hugz frum da pack))

    "Love is being owned by a husky"

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  8. This was a very sweet post. Nobody (or no dog) is perfect, but we make it work if we want to.

    I also haven't walked my dog in almost a week. But it's because of work. Boo.

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  9. Some may claim to be perfect, or look perfect to outsiders, but we're all flawed. A lot of people think I'm perfect, but I'm not. I snap at dogs who get in my face (mom & dad don't like it, but it's understandable, momma thinks) and I eat poop as fast as I can whenever I can, among other things. But my mom and dad love me very very much. And I love them, with all their flaws (my mom being the most flawed among us). We think it's important to look beyond the flaws and focus on what's wonderful about each other. It sounds like you've got three very special pups who are very lucky to have someone like you, who can do that.

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  10. OK this is easily the best post you've ever written. Loved it! I've been following your blog for quite awhile but now I feel like I really know your dogs and you so much more.

    I had to laugh at some of the things you wrote, like the "bitch bark." Ha! I know all of these flaws probably get frustrating at times, but they are also funny.

    Some of my dog's flaws: Throwing up his water from drinking too fast almost every single day. Drooling all the time, and wiping it on me, on the couch or flinging it onto the walls. He also walks in a circle as he poops, leaving a ring of shit around me to pick up. He barks like crazy if I leave him tied up in a new place, like a relative's yard. He whines a lot because we are overly attached to each other, most likely because of me. And I coddle him when he whines.

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  11. Thank you for posting this. I feel so much better about dealing with the flaws in my dogs. I love them all to pieces, but it is true. We all have flaws. I think though, that is really the best part of them. Tank was born knowing recall it seems, so the first time he came running to me was not nearly as cool and heart warming as the dog who NEVER COMES (Leia) spinning around and trotting back.

    We all have flaws...and I'm adopting the "Bitch Bark" as a new part of my vocabulary lol

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  12. Believe it or not... I am going back and reading this again. I've nodded while reading more than half of it.

    Ooops-litter ha? I got Buchi from an uneducated breeder... Now, I'm spending most of hard-earned money bringing him to the vet and buying whatever medication I need to make his life for the better.

    And I thought being proud of flaws was something of a big no-no to bloggyville... Thank the canine gods, they're saying, your incompetence is imperfection and reality blended in one single post.

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  13. This is wonderful, heart-felt post Rebekah. Your fur babies are lucky to have you for a mama.

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  14. Nice :) NO ONE is perfect. I am so sick of internet experts who know everything and are quick to judge. This is why I have left many groups and forums. We are all human and we all make mistakes. My dogs have gone longer than a week without a walk. It kills me but with this cold and snow (my small dog Sarge has 3 inch legs. What can I do when there is 4 inches or more of snow outside????) You have done your pack justice and I am sure they love their life. Sometimes I think we are too hard on ourselves as owners. Our dogs are family to us. Many people who have dogs do not have this same mind set, therefore do not treat their dogs as well. Don't ever feel bad about the little things (like doggy junk food now and then, missing walks here and there, etc.) As long as they are happy and healthy, everything else is just frosting on their cake.

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Thanks for the howls!!